Tuesday, August 18, 2009

Caught By The Fuzz (Or, The News Of The World. If You're Really Unlucky)

Several people in the TV industry seems to be having a bit of bother at the moment, one way or another. Tabloid reports over the last few days have claimed that the terminally unfunny Noel Fielding has been axed as a team captain on Never Mind The Buzzcocks. The Mighty Boosh comic (and, again, I use the word quite wrongly in this particular context) was expected to become a permanent fixture on the series after previously appearing as a guest. However, the BBC is said to have 'pulled him off the show' following drugs revelations over the weekend, according to the Sun. Fielding owned up to taking cocaine, ecstasy, acid and magic mushrooms in an interview with the News of the World. Though, presumably, not all at the same time. 'Noel is absolutely gutted,' said a source. 'As soon as news of his drug use broke he was told that he was no longer wanted on Buzzcocks. BBC bosses are very strict when it comes to drug users being on the screen... He's really disappointed because he was looking forward to the gig so much.' Ah well, them's the breaks pal.

Meanwhile, supermarket Iceland has sacked Kerry Katona from its advertising campaigns, saying it was 'impossible' for her to continue in the role. The move follows allegations, also in the News Of The World, that the former member of Atomic Kitten was taking Class A drugs. Katona has featured in the company's adverts for four years, since she won I'm A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here. The firm said that it would help her get support if she needed its aid. An Iceland spokesman added that for most of her time working for the chain, she had 'been a successful part of our advertising campaigns. But she has also been through some tough times in her personal life,' they added. 'We have always stood by her, as an example of a normal person and mum who has experienced some of the modern-day culture of fame, and how difficult it can be to deal with. However, following the most recent allegations, we feel it is impossible for Kerry to continue to work with us as one of the faces of Iceland advertising.' Iceland uses several celebrities to promote its stores, including Loose Women presenter Coleen Nolan.

The daughter of TV stars Richard Madeley and Judy Finnigan has been charged with drink-driving after her car overturned in North London. Chloe Madeley, was arrested after a crash in Barnet, in the early hours of Sunday morning. Police found a Peugeot 206 on its roof after it apparently hit a parked Mini. The driver was said to be 'not at the scene.' Police traced Madeley as the owner and she was arrested at her parents' home in North London later in the day. She is currently on bail and will appear at Hendon Magistrates' Court on 2 September, a Metropolitan Police spokesman said. Ms Madeley worked as a showbusiness reporter on the chat show, New Position, which was hosted by her parents. She has also presented Big Brother's Big Mouth and has posed for FHM magazine.

A BBC presenter who hit a teenager in the face with a wooden pole has been sacked, the corporation has said. Midlands Today reporter Ashley Blake was convicted of unlawful wounding at Birmingham Crown Court last week. Blake swung a patio umbrella pole above his head, striking seventeen-year-old Greg Jones in the face, the court heard. The incident happened at a birthday party in January, at the pub Blake then owned in Sutton Coldfield. A BBC spokesman said: 'Ashley Blake was found guilty last week of two serious charges. An internal process has resulted in Ashley's dismissal which is effective immediately.' Blake was also found guilty of perverting the course of justice by throwing the pole into a neighbouring garden centre in an attempt to conceal it from police. Judge Peter Carr warned Blake, who also worked on the BBC's Inside Out current affairs show, that a jail sentence was 'almost inevitable.' Speaking after the verdict, the presenter said he was 'gutted,' adding: 'It's all over, isn't it? My job - everything.'

Former Footballers' Wives actress Holly McGuire has been charged with drug offences after more than one hundred and fifty thousand pounds-worth of cocaine and cannabis plants were found during a police raid. The thirty one-year-old former glamour model - who played Keeley in the ITV show - has been accused of conspiracy to supply cocaine, cultivating cannabis, money laundering and illegally abstracting electricity. McGuire was arrested in June after detectives raided a house in Hornchurch, Essex. Officers found one hundred and twenty thousand pounds in cash in the boot of a Bentley Continental parked outside. McGuire is alleged to have been staying at the house with a friend, Steven Brace, and to have plotted with him to supply three Kg of cocaine found in a wardrobe. Officers are also alleged to have found fifty six cannabis plants growing in the garage at the property according to the Sun. Both McGuire and Brace are also charged with abstracting electricity by allegedly re-routing the mains supply at their house to power numerous ultra-violet lamps inside. McGuire was charged under her real name Victoria Yallop at Basildon Crown Court, Essex. She was freed on five thousand pounds bail. McGuire now runs a media company which helps aspiring models with their photographs and portfolios. The former actress used to date England defender Rio Ferdinand and has also appeared in several adverts.

Previously unreleased documents detailing the spy Guy Burgess' early career as a producer on The Week In Westminster are being published online today by the BBC archive. Burgess joined the BBC in 1936 after graduating from Cambridge, where he had been recruited as a Russian spy. Apart from a brief wartime hiatus when he was released to write government propaganda, he worked on The Week In Westminster until joining the Foreign Office in 1944. The collection of twenty four documents, Burgess at the BBC - The Early Career of a Notorious Spy, begins with the reference supplied to the BBC by Trinity College. The renowned historian Sir George Trevelyan told the corporation that Burgess had 'passed through the communist measles that so many of our clever young men go through, and is well out of it. There is nothing second rate about him and I think he would prove a great addition to your staff.' The collection also contains an expenses claim in which Burgess attempts to justify his refusal to save the BBC money by travelling second class. 'I normally travel first class and see no reason why I should alter my practice when on BBC business, particularly when I am in my best clothes,' he writes. You should have gone into a career in politics, Guy, you'd've been a natural at it. The final document in the collection is an internal memo from September 1951 commenting on the belated return of BBC library books taken out by Burgess some years previously. 'You may wish to pursue this,' it says. 'I understand that the Foreign Office are anxious to ascertain the whereabouts of Mr. Burgess...' Burgess had defected to Russia with his fellow Cambridge spy, diplomat and intelligence official Donald Maclean, earlier that year. BBC Archive is also releasing a collection of archive television and radio programmes that examine the gradual exposure of the Cambridge spies over four decades. Executive producer Julie Rowbotham said: 'The programmes we are making available online put these amazing Burgess documents into context and reveal how this young BBC producer's name became synonymous with one of the greatest spy scandals of the Twenieth Century.'

People in Azerbaijan who voted for a song by neighbouring Armenia in May's Eurovision Song Contest have been questioned by the authorities according to BBC1. One man told the BBC he was accused of being unpatriotic and a potential security threat, after he sent a text backing Armenia's song, 'Jan Jan.' The Azerbaijani authorities said people had merely been invited to explain why they voted for Armenia. In the same way that East Germany used to 'invite' dissidents to attend the Stazi headquarters, no doubt. The two states went to war over the disputed Nagorno-Karabakh region during the 1990s which, as Drop The Dead Donkey once memorably noted, was a place that only existed in the first place because 'God needed a double word score in Scrabble.' In November 2008, Armenian and Azerbaijani leaders agreed to intensify their efforts to find a political settlement to the row over the territory. They said they had made significant progress at talks in Prague in May 2009 on the sidelines of the EU's Eastern Partnership summit.

Comedians Vic Reeves and Bob Mortimer have described contemporary comedy as 'stale,' saying comedians like Michael McIntyre are not doing anything new. 'I think comedy probably is a young man's game, but it's gone a bit stale at the moment,' Reeves told the Radio Times. Mortimer, added: 'I could have been watching this new crop - Michael McIntyre and people - twenty years ago. It doesn't feel like there's been that much new.' The pair are resurrecting their surreal TV quiz Shooting Stars. 'It didn't feel cynical bringing it back - there's nothing much like it,' said Mortimer. 'It's a gap that's never been filled.'

X Factor judge Louis Walsh has defended the decision to allow a man with Asperger's Syndrome to audition for the talent show. Scott James, twenty one, told judges he did not leave home for seven years because of his condition. 'Nobody forces anybody to go to an audition. I think it's a real-life story. Is he under too much pressure? I think it has to be his choice,' Walsh told the Radio Times. A form of autism, people with Asperger's sometimes struggle with communication and social relationships. James, from Stockton-on-Tees, will be seen on TV screens shortly in the new series of the talent competition. He impressed judges with his rendition of the song, 'You Raise Me Up.' Walsh conceded that James probably did not know what he was letting himself in for at the beginning. 'Initially, no... I think it's a massive reality check for some people.'

24's executive producer Evan Katz has revealed that he has drafted a number of scenarios for the show's ending in the event that it is not renewed by FOX next year. Production has begun on the eighth season of the real-time drama, but speculation is rife that the new run will be the show's last. 'We have a scenario that would work well [if it's the end],' Katz told Entertainment Weekly. 'But we also have a bunch of scenarios where the show could go on in different ways... We're remaining flexible.' Katz also revealed that Jack's former flame Audrey - last seen at the end of season six - is unlikely to return in season eight. 'Some of the things we're doing this season preclude [her returning],' he said. 'She was in bad shape the last time we saw her.'

The BBC is to focus on creating money-making brands around its onscreen talent, and shows both in the UK and internationally, in a bid to pull in further revenue streams for its commercial arm, BBC Worldwide. Worldwide hopes to replicate the success it has had with Top Gear, which airs in a number of countries globally and has local versions in Australia and Russia, and Strictly Come Dancing, which as Dancing With the Stars is now made in thirty countries. The corporation has appointed Nigella Lawson's brand manager, William Miller, to the new role of director of talent and brand ventures with a brief to build international profiles and develop commercial opportunities such as retail ranges for BBC onscreen talent and shows. BBC Worldwide is still in the process of identifying which brands to focus on, although they are likely to be lifestyle and formatted shows and their talent rather than dramas. Wayne Garvie, BBC Worldwide content and production managing director, said: 'We feel we haven't maximised our brands as well as we could. We are now working much more closely with talent and we think there is a lot more we can do in this area. We want to be in a better position to exploit stuff we have already got. William is a rare beast: someone who has excelled in both television production and the retail world, and combined both. He will be taking talent literally outside the box, building an awareness of them overseas and establishing new routes to market for them around the world.' Miller added: 'BBC Worldwide is already extending key television brands around the globe such as Dancing With the Stars and Top Gear. Britain has some of the best onscreen talent in the world so I'm really looking forward to creating new commercial opportunities with them and BBC Worldwide in the same way.'

The bitter eighteen-month saga of John Cleese's financial settlement with his former wife appears to have come to an end. The former Monty Python's Flying Circus star has agreed to pay Alyce Faye Eichelberger-Cleese, a psychotherapist, eight million pounds in cash and assets plus monthly maintenance of fifty thousand pounds for the next seven years, taking the total package to in excess of twelve million. Cleese, sixty nine, has claimed that the deal will leave him poorer than his former wife, and will force him to work well into his seventies to 'feed the beast.' He is reported to be renting a house in the New Forest as he works on a new one-man show called My Alyce Faye Divorce Tour. Papers to finalise the settlement were lodged in the Santa Barbara Superior Court in California last week, it emerged today. Under the deal, Cleese will hand over a seven hundred and fifty thousand pound apartment in New York's Upper East Side, a two million pound mews house in Notting Hill, and half the proceeds of a six million pound beach house in Santa Barbara that has yet to be sold. The scale of his ex-wife's demands appears to have reawoken a streak of savage comedy in Cleese, which many fans consider to have lay dormant since Monty Python's Flying Circus and Fawlty Towers the television series that made him famous (and rich). 'I got off lightly. Think what I'd have had to pay Alyce if she had contributed anything to the relationship,' he was quoted as saying of the settlement. The couple's relationship was dominated by their shared interest in psychotherapy. They were introduced at a dinner party in 1990 by Cleese's former therapist. 'Basically, my doctor prescribed Alyce,' Cleese told one interviewer. When they met, Eichelberger-Cleese was reportedly living in a council flat in London with her two sons by her previous marriage to Martin Eichelberger, a professional golfer. The couple married in Barbados and honeymooned in St Lucia in 1992.

And finally, residents are protesting after their south Manchester community was held up as an example of 'broken Britain' by the makers of an ITV documentary.Sarah Ferguson, the Duchess of York, is said to have found drugs, crime and a 'lack of community spirit' during her trip to Northern Moor, Wythenshawe. Many residents have been angered by the publicity for the programme and say they live in a safe, family area. Carol Carter, a resident for twenty five years, said people were 'up in arms.' In publicity material for the programme, ITV said the duchess had spent ten days on an estate in Northern Moor 'to learn more about the problems of "broken Britain."' Residents angered by the trailers were holding a protest in part of the two hundred and seventy-acre Wythenshawe Park, which borders Northern Moor, on Tuesday. Mrs Carter said she was particularly angered by a television advert for the programme, The Duchess On The Estate. 'My hands went up in absolute horror. I was absolutely rendered speechless,' she said. 'The preview is portraying Northern Moor as the worst area in Britain to live. We haven't got gangs of gun-wielding, knife-wielding yobs. It's a very, very, very safe and lovely area for families with children.' When asked for a comment and told that the peasants were revolting, the duchess is rumoured to have replied 'yes, they are.'

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